Today was open mat and I decided to work on various aspects of my half guard game. It’s the guard I usually end up in at least once during a roll, if not many many more times. I like it because it allows you to be on your hips/side and from there opens up a whole range of movement. From the bottom, half guard is a very strong position from which to sweep or submit, if you know what you’re doing. From the top, some of the strongest passing moves in BJJ come from this position. I’ll say it now, I may have a slight bias for half guard seeing as it’s one of Michael’s favourite guards, so therefore his love for it has rubbed off somewhat. I also hasten to add that all of this below is in relation to no-gi training, I have no idea how wearing a gi would affect these moves.
Anyway, today I was working on various things, but my favourite by far from bottom half guard is a kimura-to-back-take move. The most challenging part of the move is securing the kimura grip in the first place, because it’s a highly telegraphed move; securing the wrist grip with one hand and over the shoulder with the other to complete the grip. Once you’ve got it, however, you can hip out and get your far side leg over your opponents hip to secure a kimura. If they defend by putting their hip onto the mat to squish your kimura attempt, you can invert (maintaining the grip) and you’re in position to take the back, and then work for another submission. If you’re aware of Popovitch grips from the back, you could always threaten the RNC and then actually work for a kimura, coming round a full circle. I’ve drilled this move several times in rolling, but have yet to hit in a live spar. I guess you’ve just got to take these things when the opportunity presents itself.
From top half guard I’ve also been playing with a few things that I really like, the main one being a twister half guard, to standard half guard switch. One of the key things to get a pass in standard half guard is that you secure the underhook on the opposite side to which you’re passing, otherwise you’re straight in line for a back take. With twister half guard this isn’t the case, because you can secure your pass to side control through other means. Twister half guard works when your opponent attempts to push you away, stretching themselves out in the process and leaving space by their chest. You can put your hips into this space, bum to the floor, twisting so you’re facing their legs. You need to make sure that the leg that isn’t caught between theirs is providing a solid base before you attempt to go any further, otherwise you’re just going to be swept immediately. From here you can then work to free your leg by various means. If they try and push you away/do anything with the far side arm you can bet it involves opening up the elbow, allowing you to transition back to standard flattened out half guard, secure a deep underhook (and probably get their shoulders to the mat at the same time – yay advantage to you!), and work for the lockdown pass. This pass, if executed correctly, according to Michael, is one of the most successful in BJJ.
Anyway, that’s just a few of my thoughts on some of the stuff I was playing with today. Tell me what you think!